Coming Off First Loss of Season, Auburn a 2.5-Point Underdog at Florida

Auburn Tigers basketball
No. 4 Auburn heads to Florida on Saturday looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season. Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released.
  • Auburn had won 27 of its last 28 games until losing at Alabama on Wednesday
  • Florida has won four of its last five games after starting the season 7-4
  • Gators point guard Andrew Nembhard missed two practices because of the flu

After taking its first loss of the season, No. 4 Auburn (15-1 overall, 2-1 road) is a 2.5-point underdog at Florida (11-5 overall, 6-1 home) in their SEC matchup at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (Jan. 18) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville.

No. 4 Auburn vs Florida Odds

Team Spread Total
Auburn +2.5 (-110) Over 141.5 (-110)
Florida -2.5 (-110) Under 141.5 (-110)

Odds taken Jan. 17.

Auburn fell on the road to Alabama 83-64 on Wednesday after beginning the season with 15 consecutive victories. The Tigers had also won 27 of their previous 28 games, dating back to last season.

Florida began the season as the sixth-ranked team in the nation but got off to a sluggish 7-4 start and is no longer ranked. However, the Gators have won four of their last five games as coach Mike White has slowed down the tempo and had his team, which includes five freshmen and four sophomores, run more half-court sets.

While LSU leads the SEC with a 4-0 record, Florida and Auburn are two of four teams at 3-1 along with Arkansas and No. 10 Kentucky.

Auburn opened as 2.5-point underdogs as can be seen in our Auburn vs Florida Odds page.

Gators’ Nembhard Questionable

Florida could be without sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard, who missed practice Thursday and Friday because of the flu. Nembhard has not sat out a game in his collegiate career, starting all 52, but is questionable for this one.

A member of the Canadian national team, Nembhard is averaging 11.1 points and 5.9 assists a game. In SEC play, those numbers have risen to 16.0 points and 6.0 assists.

If Nembhard can’t go, then freshmen Ques Glover and Tre Mann will handle duties at the point. Both are averaging 5.4 points and 0.6 assists a game.

It will also mean Florida will have to rely a little more on senior forward Kenny Blackshear Jr. (15.0 points, 8.4 rebounds per game) and sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson (13.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg) to carry the scoring load.

Tigers Look to Bounce Back

Auburn played what was easily its worst game of the season against arch-rival Alabama, scoring a season low in points while also allowing a season high. The Tigers shot just 32 percent from the field and 25 percent on 3-pointers while committing 21 turnovers.

However, Auburn is having a fine season even after losing the three best players – Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke – from a team that reached the Final Four last season.

Leading the way this season have been senior guard Samir Doughty (15.1 ppg), freshmen forward Issac Okoro (13.1 ppg), senior guard J’Von McCormick (11.3 ppg, 5.0 assists per game) and senior center Austin Wiley (10.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg). Okoro is a potential lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Oddsmakers consider Auburn a legitimate contender to get back to the Final Four and potentially win it all as can been seen in the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds.

The biggest question about Auburn, though, is the caliber of competition, despite having their highest ranking since also being No. 4 in 2000. The Tigers are just 86th in the country in strength of schedule, according to KenPom.com

Here are how the teams stack up in some other KenPom categories:

 

Auburn
VS
Florida

109.9 (26th) Adjusted offensive efficiency 109.6 (30th)
90.5 (27th) Adjusted offensive efficiency 93.4 (62nd)
70.8 (82nd) Adjusted tempo 66.2 (288th)

Auburn swept last season

Neither team has a great record against the spread – Auburn is 8-8 and Florida is 6-10 and both are 2-2 ATS in conference play.

Auburn beat Florida twice last season, 76-62 at home as a nine-point favorite in the regular season and 65-62 in the SEC Tournament as the 3.5-point chalk. However, the Gators won 21 of the previous 22 matchups.

Auburn has the gaudy record and the high ranking, but a case can be made Florida has the better team. The Gators are also tough at home, winning their last five games in Gainesville by an average margin of victory of 14.6 points.

Florida will miss Nembard if he is sidelined but is still good enough to cover at home.

Pick: Florida -2.5 (-110)

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